Medieval Slavic Manuscripts and Culture

Category: Manuscripts

Donated: Brief History of Saratov (Russia)


Among the recently cataloged books for the Hilandar Research Library (HRL)  is a title that was previously owned by a faculty member of The Ohio State University. From the collection of Charles E. Gribble, Professor Emeritus, Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures, comes the book ‘Pages of the Chronicle of Saratov,’* which gives a brief history of the city of Saratov, its historical significance, its administrative,  urban and cultural growth, and brief sketches of individuals who had an impact on the city’s development.

front cover of the book: dark green, with an outline of of rectangle in brown topped by outline of 3 domes; authors name in brown just inside the domed area; title in gold in old style manuscript letters in the rectangular part.

Страницы летописи Саратова (Moscow, 1987)

The HRL has among its microform holdings 294 manuscripts from the collection of Saratov State University’s Research Library,** which has been a very fertile source for manuscript research since the HRL acquired the microfilms as part of a Title II-C grant of the National Education Act that was submitted in 1993-1994. Страницы летописи Саратова describes the establishment of the university, and the names of several individuals are referenced, who appear to be connected to the provenance of some of the Saratov manuscripts.

Researchers in the HRL have reported on the significance of the Saratov manuscripts in issues of the RCMSS/HRL newsletter Cyrillic Manuscript Heritage for a number of years. Here is a sample of some of the research:

Victor Alexandrov, “Tracing the Slavic Syntagma of Blastares,” CMH 11 (May 2002): 5, 8.

Adelina Angusheva-Tihanov, “Tracing Byzantine Rhetorical Sources of the Sermons of Gregory Camblak,” CMH 21 (June 2007): 5.

Brian J. Boeck, on the Life of St. Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow, see CMH 14 (December 2003): 4.

Margaret Dimitrova, “Prayers for Newborns, Mothers and Midwives,” CMH 11 (May 2002): 8, 11.

Margaret Dimitrova, “Bulgarian Scholar Receives Fulbright to Examine HRL Collection,” CMH 25 (June 2009): 4-5, 8.

Eve Levin, “Researching Physical and Spiritual Approaches to Healing,” CMH 13 (May 2003): 4, 7.

William R. Veder, “Saratov Collection Provides Missing Key,” CMH 9 (May 2001): 6.


*Б. И. Казаков, Г. Д. Казакова, и Л.Н. Любомирова, Страницы летописи Саратова (Саратов: Привожское книжное издательство, 1987).

**Note that the contractual agreement between the HRL and SGU allows only for the viewing of the microfilms on site – no reproductions from the HRL films may be made without the permission of SGU.


List of Digitized Manuscripts at the British Library

According to the British Library’s blog, they now have an Excel list of digitized manuscripts that will be updated every three months.

British Library's List of Digitized Manuscripts

British Library’s List of Digitized Manuscripts


Research Stipends: Hill Museum and Manuscript Library


Although not specifically listed in the announcement below, there are Slavic manuscripts on microform among the holdings of the Hill Manuscript Library. For example, if you search its online catalog Oliver, select Vienna and Austria’s National Library for Library from the dropdown menus. For shelfmark, simply put in “Slav” and the search results will include the codices Vindobonensis.Palatinus.Slav, described in Gerhard Birkfellner’s Glagolitische und kyrillische Handschriften in Österreich (Wien, 1975).

City:  Wien
Library: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
Shelfmark: Slav


Hill Museum & Manuscript Library
Saint John’s University
Collegeville, Minnesota  56321
Phone: 320-363-2741
Fax: 320-363-3222

PURPOSE:  For research at the Library.
ELIGIBILITY:  Graduate students or scholars who are within three years of completing a terminal master’s or doctoral degree.
DURATION:  Two weeks to six months.
AMOUNTS:  Variable up to $2,000.

DEADLINES:  Twice a year.
April 15 for research conducted from July 1-December 31. November 15 for research conducted from January 1-June 30.

APPLICATION:  Submit a letter of application, c.v., a one-page description of the research project including proposed length of stay, an explanation of how the Library’s resources will enable you to advance your project, and a confidential letter of recommendation from your advisor, thesis director, mentor, or, in the case of postdoctoral candidates, a colleague who is a good judge of your work.

SEND:  All inquiries and materials to The Committee on Research, Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, 2835 Abbey Plaza, Box 7300, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, MN 56321-7300 or directed to, or fax (320) 363-3222.

The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library houses extensive resources for the study of manuscripts and archives. Almost 130,000 manuscripts are available on microfilm and in digital format.  HMML has microfilmed extensively in Austria, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Malta, and Ethiopia, and is currently digitizing manuscripts in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, India, Malta and Italy. Consult the Library’s website for further information, including an electronic inventory of its collections (OLIVER) and a growing database of manuscript and book images (Vivarium).

Source: Email announcement from the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library <>


Digitized Manuscript: Codex Alexandrinus, v.4, British Library


A scanned color version of Royal MS 1 D VIII, volume 4 – the New Testament – of Codex Alexandrinus, a 5th-century Greek Bible in four volumes, is available in the “Digitised Manuscripts” section of the British Library’s website.

The various owners’ inscriptions described on the webpage detail the fascinating journey of this codex from Constantinople to England through the hands of Athanasius III, Patriarch of Alexandria, to James I, King of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Information Source:
Paleografia Greca. The blog of Pyle. Entry: Monday, December 17, 2012.

Fellowship in Eastern Christian Manuscript Studies


Dietrich Reinhart OSB Fellowship in Eastern Christian Manuscript Studies

Application Deadline: December 15, 2012

The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) announces the establishment of the Dietrich Reinhart OSB Fellowship in Eastern Christian Manuscript Studies, to be awarded annually for three years beginning with the Academic Year 2013-2014. The fellowship has been established through the generosity of Rebecca Haile and Jean Manas of New York, New York, in memory of Br. Dietrich Reinhart OSB (1949-2008). Br. Dietrich, 11th President of Saint John’s University, was a visionary leader who saw HMML as integral to the mission of Saint John’s Abbey and University, and enthusiastically promoted HMML’s work in the Middle East, Ethiopia, and India.

Awardees must be undertaking research on some aspect of Eastern Christian studies requiring use of the digital or microfilm manuscript collections at HMML. They must have already been awarded a doctoral degree in a relevant field and have demonstrated expertise in the languages and cultures of Eastern Christianity relevant for their projects.

The Fellowship may be held for a full academic year (September 1-April 30) or for one semester (September 1-December 20; January 4-April 30). The Fellowship provides accommodation in an apartment at the Collegeville Institute on the Saint John’s University campus; working space at HMML; access to library, recreational and cultural activities at Saint John’s University; round-trip transportation; and a stipend of up to $25,000 for a full academic year. Stipends will be adjusted for less than a full year in residence.

Awardees will be expected to devote full attention to their research projects while in residence. They will also be expected to participate in a weekly seminar for Collegeville Institute resident scholars, to present their research in a public lecture sponsored by HMML, and to be a resource for HMML staff and other researchers during their stay.

Applicants are asked to provide: 1) a cover letter with current contact information and an indication of availability for a full-year or one-semester residency; 2) a description of the project to be pursued, including an explanation of how access to HMML’s resources will be important for its success (1000-1500 words); 3) an updated curriculum vitae; 4) two letters of reference.

The cover letter, project description, and CV should be sent by the applicant to; letters should be sent by the referees directly to the same email address or in hard copy to Julie Dietman, HMML, Box 7300, Collegeville, MN 56321.

Applications for the Academic Year 2013-14 are due December 15, 2012. The decision and acceptance process will be completed by the end of February 2013.

The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library is a sponsored program of Saint John’s University, with the world’s largest collection of research material for the study of manuscripts. HMML holds microfilm and digital images of more than 135,000 complete manuscripts. In addition to Latin manuscripts, HMML’s collections are particularly rich in Ethiopic, Syriac, Arabic, and Armenian manuscripts.

Source: Website of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library,, via OSU Byzantinist, Professor Anthony Kaldellis.


Workshop: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Early-Modern Bindings


A workshop, “Hidden Treasure: The Use of Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Early-Modern Bindings,” was held on Wednesday, October 10, 2012, following a lecture by Erik Kwakkel (University of Leiden). The workshop was conducted by Kwakkel and Eric J. Johnson, OSU Libraries’ Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts.


Fragments of medieval manuscripts form an unusual and exciting research object for the historian of the book. They are the heavily damaged remains of objects – books – that themselves do not survive because they were cut up by book binders in the medieval and early-modern periods to be used as binding support. Hidden in book bindings, these snippets became travelers in time, stowaways with great and important stories to tell. Using specimens from the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library this hands-on workshop introduces the most common types of fragments and shows how the unpretentious objects add to our understanding of medieval written culture.

Kwakkel’s visit was co-sponsored by History of the Book, the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Center for Epigraphical and Palaeographical Studies, and the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library.

Source: Website of the Working Group Literary Studies @ OSU, Institute of Humanities

Follow Erik Kwakkel on Twitter @erik_kwakkel

Like the OSU Rare Books and Manuscripts Library on Facebook


Lecture: Erik Kwakkel on Parchment Offcuts

History of the Book Lecture

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 – 1:00pm
Thompson Library 150

Erik Kwakkel is Associate Professor in medieval paleography at Leiden University, The Netherlands. He held appointments at the Universities of Amsterdam, Vancouver (UBC) and Victoria (UVic) before coming to Leiden as principal investigator of the research project ‘Turning Over a New Leaf: Manuscript Innovation in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance’. Among his publications are articles and book chapters on a variety of manuscript-related topics, as well as monographs and edited volumes on Carthusian book production (2002), medieval Bible culture (2007), change and development in the medieval book (2012), and medieval authorship (2012). Erik Kwakkel will be the holder of the 2014 E.A. Lowe Lectureship in Paleography at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In 2012 he was appointed to The Young Academy of The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).


“From Scrap to Book: The Use of Parchment Offcuts in Manuscript Culture”
Technological changes in the later Middle Ages provided scribes and patrons with increased opportunities to reduce the cost of the manuscript they made or acquired. This lecture draws attention to a cheap kind of writing support, not discussed as such in present scholarship of the medieval book. It shows how small strips of discarded parchment from the edge of the skin became used as writing material, not only for short notes and letters, but also for full manuscripts. To make this case, the lecture will discuss references to such scraps in primary sources and introduce the tell-tale deficiencies on the medieval page that reveal that off-cuts were used. Ultimately it is shown that the tendency for books to become cheaper near the later Middle Ages predates the age of print.

Kwakkel’s visit is co-sponsored by History of the Book, the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Center for Epigraphical and Palaeographical Studies, and the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library.

Source: Website of the Working Group Literary Studies @ OSU, Institute of Humanities

Follow Erik Kwakkel on Twitter @erik_kwakkel

Like the OSU Rare Books and Manuscripts Library on Facebook


Digitized Manuscript: The Gospels of Tsar Ivan Alexander, British Library


A scanned color version of the Gospels of Tsar Ivan Alexander with Added Menelogion, 1355-1356, is available in the “Digitised Manuscripts” section of the British Library’s website.

This codex is one of two manuscripts (see previous blog entry on the Curzon Gospel and the Nuttall Codex) that the hegumen of St. Paul’s Monastery presented to Robert Curzon, Lord Zouche, when he was visiting Mount Athos.


The Curzon Gospel and Codex Nuttall


Tuesday, September 11th, the OSU Fine Arts Library hosted a “facsimiles open house” so that patrons could familiarize themselves with the variety of manuscript reproductions available in the OSU Libraries. Facsimiles are invaluable resources for researchers, faculty, and students who are unable to access original unique items.

There were over 40 facsimiles in various languages from several different library collections on display. Among them was the Rare Books and Manuscripts’ Codex Nuttall: Facsimile of an ancient Mexican codex belonging  to Lord Zouche of Harynworth, England, with an introduction by Zelia Nuttall (Cambridge, Mass; Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 1902).

Codex Zouche-Nuttall was presented at some point to Robert Curzon, 14th Baron Zouche.* This is the same Curzon who wrote an illuminating account of his travels and manuscript acquisitions entitled Visits to the Monasteries of the Levant (1848). Curzon describes receiving from the abbot of St. Paul’s Monastery on Mt. Athos a 14th-century Bulgarian manuscript . This manuscript is the focus of Cynthia Vakareliyska’s monumental two-volume annotation of and linguistic/textual introduction to the Curzon Gospel.


*Fewkes, J. Walter. Book Review: “Codex Nuttall. Facsimile of an Ancient Mexican Codex Belonging to Lord Zouche of Harynworth, England.” American Ethnography Quasimonthly. Upon Curzon’s death in 1873, the codex passed to his son, and then to the British Museum.